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  • Writer's pictureAllan Jenks

Indie B-Sides Review #005

Welcome back to the latest edition of the Indie B-Sides Review! This time, we take a look at: another awesome entry in the SEGA AGES series of classic ports; a game that, not only would Andrew W.K. endorse it… probably… it’s also a stealth strategy game where you play the slasher-flick killer; a classic-style twin-stick shooter; a couch co-op hidden gem; and finally, we’ll discover a platformer you never realized you were missing… Let’s check it out!

SEGA AGES Space Harrier (Nintendo Switch)

Reviewer: Bradford E. (The Waffinator)

Developer: M2

Publisher: SEGA

Category: Action, Arcade

Release Date: 8.22.19

Price: $7.99

SEGA Does It Again

Keeping another ageless and timeless classic alive, SEGA ports over a newer line up in their SEGA AGES series, and this time for the Nintendo Switch, Space Harrier. Originally released in 1985 as an arcade game and getting ports to newer consoles as time went on, this game is one not to pass up. I honestly had never heard of it before, and as much fun as I'm having with it, I don’t know how I missed it. You are literally just flying around fantasy levels blasting all kinds of fantasy-style creatures, while avoiding their return fire and random objects, like trees and rocks. There are 18 levels in all, and once you get game over or complete the game, your score gets uploaded online to see where you rank among everyone else—I didn’t do too well.

I couldn't stand the inverted controls, as I hate having to push up to go down, and down to go up. It totally messes me up, but guess what? You can shut that off in the settings and play like a rookie, just like me! Another cool feature that I enjoyed was, because it was an arcade game that was ported, you have a few screen options and can change the view. You can make it look more like an arcade or go full screen. The choice is yours. I played full screen in portable mode, and it was absolutely gorgeous for a game that is almost 35 years old.

If you are into old-style arcade games—especially run-and-gun, or in this game’s case, fly-and-gun—I would highly recommend it. It is perfect to pick up for a quick quick gaming session, but even if you just want to unwind and play a game for a decent amount of time and you don’t want to have to worry about save points, then this game is a must!

Score: 8.5/10

Buy SEGA AGES Space Harrier from the Nintendo Switch eShop here.

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*Review code was provided for review purposes

Party Hard (Nintendo Switch)

Reviewer: Chad M.

Developer: Pinokl Games, Kverta

Publisher: tinyBuildGAMES

Category: Arcade, Action, Puzzle, Simulation

Release Date: 11.22.2018

Price: $14.99

Andrew W.K. Isn’t the Only One Who Can Party Hard

When I think of my favorite slasher flicks, I immediately think of the Halloween and Friday the 13th franchises. The only thing is, those guys had more of a supernatural ability, and though I enjoyed those movies, I really wish that if there was a movie-based slasher game franchise that would be a Scream-style game. The idea of having to strategize and take out victims one by one would make for a rather interesting stealth action game. Well, in full pixelated glory, here we are with Party Hard, a stealthy strategy game that has you play as psychotic killer heading into 12 different parties/scenarios, from Halloween house parties, cruise ships, forest park parties, and more.

The story follows a police officer being interviewed and telling his point of view hunting down the killer. Each stage has 40-60 people, and you must murder them all to complete that stage and move on. You can use your trusty knife, or use traps, like rigging explosives, spiking punch bowls, and even dialing a phone to bring in anyone from a chainsaw-wielding murderer to a HAZMAT team spraying deadly gas. Patience is key in this game, as you have to strategize each of the traps, which will change in each stage. Luckily, you can dump bodies to lower suspicion. You can run when needed, but you have a stamina meter that drains extremely fast. The second a dead body is seen, they will run and call the police, so don’t get caught in the act or even near the body.

You can use items to assist in taking out your victims or evading capture, like a change of clothes or smoke bombs. You can dance and blend into the crowd, but sometimes it just pissed off the people around me rather than helping me blend. The audio and visuals are both done well, with enough variety between stages to make every party feel different and new. I was happy to see co-op play, six unlockable characters, and seven unlockable DLC stages. The game has a pretty good amount of content and replay value. I liked the game even when it became frustratingly hard, so, though I recommend it, I would still warn people that if you don’t have patience and need something more fast-paced, you may have to pass; but, if not, then I’d recommend taking a stab at it.

Score: 7.5/10

Buy Party Hard from the Nintendo Switch eShop here.

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*Review code was provided for review purposes

Stellatum (Nintendo Switch)

Reviewer: WoodmanFLG

Developer: Sometimes You

Publisher: Sometimes You

Category: Shoot ‘Em Up, Arcade

Release Date: 10.9.2019

Price: $14.99

A Flash-y Affair

Do you remember the days of early flash games? Websites full of amateur games with crude graphics, generally containing some decent ideas in some cases, with a bad execution that mars the experience. It was a moment in time, and man, did I play a lot of them! Stellatum reminds me of those times, and while not quite as bad as my first impression, this game has some questionable design decisions, coupled with a confusing user interface and a just-barely-there story. I will admit though, after a few more hours with it—and once I figured out how to do what I wanted to—it did improve, which is what reminds me of the old days.

In Stellatum, the story is that you are fighting as an alien race that is ready to conquer outer space, and as you continue on, you discover some things you might not have expected; or maybe you would, because it's not really the wildest idea, and this is pretty much all you get story-wise, but hey, we’re here for the gameplay right? Think twin-stick shooter with a variety of upgrades to make your ship faster and sturdier, or to outfit yourself with some system weapons, like a shot-eraser or a missile salvo. This lends to a bit of customization to let you play how you want to play, which is nice, but even after multiple engine upgrades, I still was never able to feel anything but extra clunky personally, which was a drag when it came to trying to dodge enemy attacks; and it often felt like a chore, or a situation where I was better off just face-tanking the attack instead of trying to dodge it.

The visuals are simple, with no enemy designs really sticking out or being interesting to me, but the main ship can look kind of cool after enough upgrades. The UI suffers in handheld mode—it’s very hard to read for me—and the audio design leaves much to be desired as well. There's fun to be had here, but be prepared to dig deep and accept that it still might not click for you. It took a while for me, and some may not be willing to devote that much time to this title for it to do it for you. I give Stellatum a 5 out of 10.

Score: 5/10

Buy Stellatum from the Nintendo Switch eShop here.

Follow Sometimes You

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*Review code was provided for review purposes

Heave Ho (Nintendo Switch)

Reviewer: Chad M.

Developer: Le Cartel Studio

Publisher: Devolver Digital

Category: Action, Arcade, Platformer, Strategy

Release Date: 8.29.2019

Price: $9.99

The Cartel Is Getting into Kid Games

As a reviewer, it’s tough sometimes to not judge a book by its cover, as loads of titles flood into the eShop every month. I’ve seen a handful of titles take some kooky-looking characters, throw together a theme that usually sounds over-the-top and crazy, and most of the time, ask for you to play with friends in couch co-op. Seeing Devolver as the publisher was the first clue that this wasn’t your run-of-the-mill kiddie puzzle game relying on antics like crude humor and kooky characters—It has both by the way—but that it had rather deep and fun gameplay. The second clue was the fact that this is Le Cartel Studios sophomore project; the first was Mother Russia Bleeds, an ultraviolent beat ‘em up. For them to drastically take a left turn and go from not just one genre to the next, but also lean more towards a family-friendly game was a surprise.

In short, the game has you play as a ball character with only arms, you customize your look and sound and then jump in. It’s fun enough playing the game alone, but the game really shines when you play the multiplayer. It’s one that falls into the “easy to learn and hard as hell to master” category, especially depending on who you’re playing with, as it can cause some rage-inducing gaming sessions. You start at point A and are trying to get to point B—it’s that simple, but you really have to work together. Friends and I started playing, and before we knew it, 3 hours had passed like it was nothing. You can even collect a coin in each stage, adding a level of difficulty and skill. Everything about this game was a blast for me. The only downside, if any, is that it really only shines when playing with friends. I highly recommend buying this one immediately for your collection.

Score: 9/10

Buy Heave Ho from the Nintendo Switch eShop here.

Follow Le Cartel Studio

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Follow Devolver Digital

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*Review code was provided for review purposes

Sydney Hunter & the Curse of the Mayan (Nintendo Switch)

Reviewer: Bradford E. (The Waffinator)

Developer: CollectorVision Games

Publisher: CollectorVision Games

Category: Action, Adventure, Platformer

Release Date: 9.12.2019

Price: $19.99

The Platformer You Didn’t Know You Needed

Another platformer is in our laps, unless you haven’t gotten it yet—and if you haven’t given Sydney Hunter & the Curse of the Mayan a chance yet, you are missing out! It is true to its platformer roots, and gives us a fresh new game, yet it seems so familiar. It’s a 2-D, side-scrolling, 8-bit-style game that you didn’t know you needed! As soon as I saw this game on the review list, I didn’t hesitate to take it. I had gotten to play the game demo at PAX EAST 2019 with my kid, and met a few people who worked on the game, so I knew I had to see how it came out; and I am glad I gave this game a chance, because I am addicted!

You play as Sydney—think of him as an Indiana-Jones-type character—an explorer who goes into an old Mayan pyramid and must help restore order. You start off with a whip and 3 hearts, but as you play, you can get more hearts and make it so you can live longer, which will come in handy when you are in boss fights, or if you are going longer in between save/checkpoints. You will come across all kinds of jungle-style creatures that try to kill you, like rats, bats, snakes, and spiders. This game is a great title to get into for all styles of gamers. It's got a newer-style story, yet gameplay that a lot of us older gamers grew up with, and really screams out to your inner gamer child. This game is Castlevania meets Indiana Jones, with a bit of Legends of the Hidden Temple thrown in, and it is a great title to add to the collection.

Score: 8.5/10

Buy Sydney Hunter & the Curse of the Mayan from the Nintendo Switch eShop here.

Follow CollectorVision Games

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*Review code was provided for review purposes

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